Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

Mother came home over the weekend to stay with us. She is currently living in an assisted-living situation. She developed a sore finger from a hangnail that turned into a MRSA infection. She's just sure it's because our house isn't clean enough. But she already had a sore finger when she arrived, so I'm equally convinced she came to us with this problem. I think it's more likely that she picked up the bacterial bug at her facility. What do you think?

Answer:

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus is known more commonly as a staph infection. It can be community-acquired (CA) or hospital-acquired (HA). Community acquired means the person was exposed to the bacteria somewhere out in their work, home, or recreational environment. In other words, they didn't pick up the bacteria while being hospitalized. Developing this type of infection while living in an assisted living facility is still considered community acquired. MRSA doesn't affect everyone. There are certain people who seem to be more susceptible (more likely to get MRSA). These at-risk groups include people involved in contact sports, athletes sharing equipment, and individuals who are immunosuppressed (poor immune system function). It doesn't sound like that describes your mother. But the very young and the very old are two age-related groups at increased risk for developing MRSA. Depending on how old your mother is age could be a risk factor. On the other hand, there's also been a disturbing trend of MRSA infections in people who have no obvious risk factors. It is widely believed that living in close quarters (e.g., jails, dormitories, barracks) is a risk factor for CA-MRSA. An assisted living situation can be much like a dorm with meals eaten together in a common area, shared public bathrooms, and group activities. The important thing now is to make sure your mother's infection is treated. She will need to see a physician if she hasn't already. Serious infections may need to be surgically drained but the physician will determine this. Occasionally, infection drainage takes more than one procedure. For the best results, follow all instructions provided by the physician while she is in your home and at her assisted living facility. Scott D. Imahara, MD, and Jeffrey B. Friedrich, MD. Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Surgically Treated Hand Infections. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2010. Vol. 35A. No. 1. Pp. 97-103.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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